I enjoy doing a little research before I visit a new community. I make a mental list of must-sees, and always try to add a few off-the-beaten-path places to my list of things to do.

Here are five such places that many locals may not even know about, but that I would highly recommend when visiting Hendricks County, Indiana.

Because they aren't as well known, I've tried to add some details to help you experience them whether you are a local or a visitor, and these are listed in no particular order. I love them all.

1. Burnett Woods Nature PreserveBurnett Woods in Avon, Indiana

  • Where is it? 8264 E. County Road 100 South in Avon
  • Where can I park? In back of the Light and Life Methodist Church.​
  • Who’d love it? Hikers, families and those with a case of wildflower fever.

This 68-acre wooded nature preserve is the county's only dedicated state nature preserve and is managed by the Central Indiana Land Trust.

This is a great place to take the kids on a hike and teach them about native trees and wildflowers, as it is preserved as an example of what once was common in this region of Central Indiana.

For more information about this hidden gem, click here.

2. Hot Blown GlassA lesson in glass art at Hot Blown Glass

Hot Blown Glass in Clayton is the private, studio of Indiana Artisan Lisa Pelo.

But the great thing about Lisa is she doesn’t keep this precious hideaway or her glass talents to herself.

Visitors can try the intricate art of glass work by creating a simple piece like a paperweight or pumpkin on their own under the direct guidance of Lisa by appointment. Guests come away floored by the experience and the art they create without any previous experience.

But don't just show up on her doorstep! Appointments are required. Call the number above and talk to Lisa before making any plans.

3. Arcane CoffeeCold Brew growlers from Arcane Coffee

  • Where is it? 6 Manor Drive in Danville.
  • Who’d love it? People with a true passion for coffee and the home equipment to enjoy it.

Though it's tucked into the busy Old Farm district of Danville, this is one hidden gem you'd likely never stumble upon on accident. As the name suggests, Arcane Coffee is shrouded in a bit of mystery.

Anyone expecting to pop in for a latte and scone will quickly learn that this is no coffee shop. Think of it as a permanent market stand with only one focus -- artfully roasted coffee.

Owner Dudley Forman is passionate about the perfect roast, and his whole beans and cold brew (available by growler) is full of robust richness. It's the perfect summertime refreshment, though I find myself getting my growler filled all year long.

4. Forget-Me-NotsForget-Me-Nots is one-of-a-kind

  • Where is it? 127 S. Washington St. Danville.
  • Phone: (317) 850-8281
  • Who’d love it? Fans of the farmhouse aesthetic and rustic decor, antique enthusiasts and those who like to shop local.

This is another spot that is just a hop, skip, and a jump off a busy town square, but since it's situated on a one-way street you might just miss this truly unique boutique.

Forget-Me-Nots specializes in creating beautiful decor pieces from salvaged barn wood. As you shop, ask owners Chris and Cindy the history of each piece, and you're likely to hear which barn in the area the items were created from. They also have a carefully curated array of new items and antiques which are thoughtfully arranged with a theme in mind.

Forget-Me-Nots also works with customers to create custom pieces, often repurposing heritage items which are no longer useful into works of art. My mom surprised all of us at Christmas with sweet little wooden Christmas trees made from her grandfather's childhood playpen. It had been sitting in an attic for decades, and though utterly unusable, she hated the idea of parting with that connection to him.

Now, thanks to this sweet little store, we will all cherish a little piece of family history when we deck our halls each year.

5. Vandalia TrailVandalia Trail in autumn

  • Where is it? From Amo through Coatesville to the Hendricks-Putnam County Line.
  • Who’d love it? Outdoor enthusiasts, hikers, horseback riders, walkers and families.

Embrace the outdoors by walking or biking the 4-mile-long rail trail that runs along the route of the former Vandalia Railroad. An aggregate equestrian trail runs parallel to the pedestrian trail.

Enjoy the scenery of rural Hendricks County and utilize the modern restrooms, water fountains and bicycle repair stations at each trailhead.

For more information about the Vandalia Trail, click here.